The idea that God, the Creator of everything, actually came to us through natural human birth, is mind boggling. God, who has no beginning, was actually born a human baby 2000 years ago!
That was the First Birth. Incredibly, there was a Second Birth! God was born again, as He rose from the dead, on the Feast of Firstfruits (or Feast of the Firstborns -- the firstborn is the first fruit of the womb). Jesus the Firstborn was BORN AGAIN on the Feast of the Firstfruits. He was regenerated by the power of the Spirit as He rose from the grave. His rebirth signalled a new era in the redemption history of God. His body is the first resurrected glorified body -- the first of such glorified bodies believers of this new era shall receive at His coming (Phil 3:21).
How appropriate the founder of this "Born Again" religion is himself a born again God-man. All who follow Him must be born again. We are born again the moment we receive the Holy Spirit into us and the Lord begins the regenerative process and brings it to completion when we receive our glorified bodies.
By this rebirth, we are born into the family of God, no longer strangers in the Kingdom of Christ. We were not a people (chosen people), now we are the people of God. There is something wonderful yet mysterious in this regenerative process. WE BECOME THE SEED OF ABRAHAM, not through flesh (Rom 9:7,8), but by the Spirit of the living God!
The Gentiles now have free and equal access to the God of the Hebrews, who is indeed the God of the universe. Not only that, the Christians, neither Jew nor Gentile, can now enter into the Holy of Holies! Glory!
This is unthinkable to the rabbis, totally blasphemous. In ancient times, very few Israelites were allowed to come near God in the Temple. Gentiles were not allowed beyond the Court of the Gentiles -- a large platform surrounding the Temple complex. Within the Temple complex, Israelite women were not allowed beyond the Court of Women. Next, only male Israelites were allowed in the Court of Israel or Court of Men. Further in, the Court of the Priests which housed the sacrificial altar, was only accessible to Levites and priests. The priests were descendants of a particular Levite -- Aaron who was the first High Priest. The Sanctuary, in the back of the Court of the Priests, has two chambers. The first is the holy place, which holds the table of shewbread and the Menorah. The second chamber, the Holy of Holies is set apart by two curtains, and is only entered by the High Priest once a year, on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement -- the holiest day.
The belief that Christians now have access to the Holy of Holies, not just once a year, but every day of the year, is just too much for any Jews. Think again the full import of our standing before God because of our rebirth in Christ. The implication of our drawing near God through Christ our High Priest, even into the Holy of holies, is that now WE ARE PRIESTS OF GOD!
We are born into the family of Christ -- the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. We become priests of God by virtue of this rebirth -- something impossible for an Israelite to do even if he wants to turn himself into a priest or a Levite through wishful thinking. Do you see the importance and necessity of this born-again process?
Think of this analogy. Suppose you are a Chinese and you wish to become an Indian. The only way according to the Hindu or Bhuddist belief system is by means of reincarnation, which is rebirth! Also, there is no way a lower caste Hindu can ever hope to become a Brahmin save by the rebirth process once again.
In the same way, we Gentiles have become the seed of Abraham by being born of the Spirit. And we have the good fortune of being born into the family of the High Priest -- the highest caste of the people.
In Christ we are neither male nor female. This is another HUGE clue that Christians are distinct from the people of God before Christ. We need to meditate on this phrase, 'neither male nor female', until we fully appreciate its power and blessings for a Christian. Notice that the furthest the Israelite women can go in the Temple complex is the Court of the Women. The people who draw near to God to serve Him are not just predominantly male, they are exclusively male. But since Christians are priests of God, the sex distinction no longer applies since a female Christian may also draw near to God as much as a male Christian. Not so with the Israelites. Their women cannot even enter the Court of Men (after the Court of the Women), not to mention further in the Court of the Priests and the Sanctuary.
Since Christians are born again people, they are also firstborns! They are first of a kind in that they are the first people who are born of the Spirit! (We have the firstfruits of the Spirit; Rom 8:23) One cannot say the same of the Israelites. The idea of firstborns is unpalatable to many, especially if they are second-borns, third-borns and so on.
To those who object to the idea of firstborns, examine Israel and its history. Which tribe is the firstborn tribe? The Levites! When God delivered the people out of Egypt, He taught them the object lesson of the firstborn and Passover. He killed all the firstborns of Egypt at the last plague and freed Israel His firstborn!Ex 4:22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:
Ex 4:23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.
Israel was God's firstborn in relation to all other nations of the world. However, within Israel, the tribe of Levi is the firstborn tribe. When Moses numbered the firstborns of Israel in Num 3:45,46, there were 273 firstborns in excess of the number of Levites. However, God did not require these non-Levite firstborns of Israel to draw near to Him to serve. Instead, He said "the Levites shall be mine." The people had to pay redemption money of 5 shekels each to Aaron and his sons for the 273 firstborns in excess.
The idea is that all firstborns are God's since they were bought (redeemed) with a price. God is charging each firstborn 5 shekels for those not serving in the Tabernacle. Since He only requires all the Levites to serve Him, the remaining 273 firstborns must pay the price of redemption for them to be released from service.
By implication, all Levites are regarded as firstborns even though they are not firstborns by birth. They have the good fortune of becoming firstborns by God's own choosing, and there is no option for them to pay 5 shekels each to be released from service.
Israel is regarded as God's firstborn in relation to all nations. The Levites are regarded as firstborns in relation to all other tribes of Israel.
The born again people of the born again God is the church of the firstborn (Heb 12:23). The first has become last and the last first. Israel the first has become second (last usually means second) and the latter Church has become first.
Do we realize the awesome responsibilities placed upon us by our eternal High Priest, who is not ashamed to call us brothers -- male brothers and female brothers? We have been bought (redeemed) with a great price -- the perfect Passover Lamb -- and we are left with no option to redeem ourselves with 5 shekels or 5 billion shekels to be released from service. Not serving Him is not an option. God has claimed us to be His own so that we may serve Him for ever and ever. And we shall see His face! (Re 22:3,4) Meditate on this wonderful scripture and let it dawn upon you that it means that we will draw near to serve Him, beholding His glorious countenance, not miles away from the Throne Room where there will be a heavenly Court of the Gentiles or equivalent no doubt. We were once far off but are now made nigh by the blood of Christ (Eph 2:13).